This Yoga Teacher's Edge

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built." ~Rumi

Have practiced yoga ten years; been teaching seven. Despite advanced training, constant self-guided studying, and nearly 2000 hours of teaching post certification; I balance scales of the known and unknown with a college freshman mind. Maybe Gemini energy pushes me in multiple directions; maybe that new candle joining the growing club burning on my birthday cake illuminates a hunger of urgency; maybe my philosophy of no regrets fans a flame. And, maybe it is my spirit making it uncomfortable for me to not venture out of my comfort zone. Maybe Springsteen's song plays in my subconscious to keep me 'dancing in the dark.'

Legends that stepped beyond boundaries of outlined yoga declarations of the best way to practice are Ganga White and Tracey Rich. Founders of the eclectic, enlightening and liberating White Lotus Foundation. Their life gleaned wisdom, experiences and un-proclaimed power they have inspired me. I had the spark; they were the fuel. I stand on their shoulders every time I teach. My aspiration to bring spirit inhaled from the West to the South exhaled into a first time yoga retreat. I had a foundation of high standards to build my personal structure.

Checked lots of possible locations. None felt right. Driving on the same 2 mile stretch of road I have traveled to and from work for the past 12 years, I made a quick, un-planned turn into a lot with a few offices. I drove to the back and lo and behold, I see a dance studio I heard of; but, never saw. I walk in and inquire about renting the place. The person in charge happened to be there...usually off that day. Sychronicity.

Waiting for her, my eyes saw every nuance I wanted to create a sacred space. I introduced myself to the general manager and told her my intention. She invited me into her office to talk...our eyes connected and authenticity confirmed. I gave her details; but, her decision was made without words. Fifteen minutes later, I'm given the gift of renting the space. (Later learned I was maybe the 3rd person in 15 years she rented the place to.)

I didn't waste time. I set the date and promoted it to the yogis that have been coming to my classes for the past six years. The creation of a day long retreat of asanas, guided meditation, breathing practices and more sparked my nervous system into "fight or flight" mode. I fought the fear. Sharing what resonated with me, worked for me, and changed me was the core of the retreat. I had to be vulnerable. I think we're more scared of how we perceive ourselves vs. what others think.

It was a process of stripping veils to bare my soul to others. The mind did the planning of semantics. The ego bantered with its split personality to overcome fear of failing. The greater your teachers of life have been the higher your expectations of yourself. The clocked ticked faster as the date approached. The "to-do" list got longer the more I crossed things off.

Still on inhale mode. I felt like a virgin planning the perfect arrangement of giving myself up...hoping it worth the risk.

The day arrived. The unexpected, abnormal cold I fought for two weeks prior vanished. It was time. I traded my big inhale with a long exhale and stepped on the mat as I assumed my role as a professional in the alchemy of yoga.

Loving, kind people entered the doors with smiles. The energy was receptive and full of love. In the circle of unity, each person took a place. The frequency of my crystal bowl from Sedona set the tone for our collective OM's. It was united. It was nourishing. I found it liberating to be humble if I forgot what I meant to say. It changed my constant critic's perspective of excellence. I believe I skipped two grades by the end of the day and am feeling good to be a junior; not in a rush to be a senior;)

Heartfelt messages of gratitude made the time and effort worth it. So, I aspire to do more, be more, learn more, teach more. The heart of my stories are a mere reflection of other's stories. Only the characters and scripts vary; but, the theme of love is what draws the biggest crowd. That is what we are...what makes us move...keeps us living. To me, that is the heart of this timeless practice. You learn to embrace yourself by embracing others.

I can't say what each yogi found most enlightening; but, I can say we shared universal loving energy. Nothing in the retreat can be isolated to one event. Epiphanies occur in a moment; but, a sequential compilation of moments opens this door of awareness. The willingness to be vulnerable gives you courage to bare yourself to others.

I felt energetically naked; but, stroke a pose like a person standing in the nude for artists to draw what they see. The longer I held the pose, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin. As a yoga teacher, this was my new edge.

Lesson: Live life to your edge. With courage to go beyond the mental cage of sameness, doing what you love opens doors beyond all expectations. "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

My heart is invested in what and who I love. I listen to my soul's whispers. A student, first...a teacher, second...and who leads the dance keeps changing. It may start in the dark; but, it ultimately moves me to the light...

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